Curtis Institute of Music Announces its 90th Anniversary with the 2014-15 Season

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Curtis Institute of Music Announces its 90th Anniversary with the 2014-15 Season

Looking toward its centenary, Curtis marks 90 years as “one of the world’s most elite music academies” (BBC Culture) with a season that includes more than 200 performances at home and around the world.

2014-15 Media Calendar :: Season by Series

PHILADELPHIA, PA—September 23, 2014— The 2014–15 Curtis Institute of Music season is a celebration of 90 years of “music in the making” in Philadelphia and around the world, from performances with Osmo Vänskä, Robert Spano, and Peter Wiley to collaborations with Performance Today to Curtis On Tour performances on three continents. The many performance offerings by Curtis’s extraordinary students offer a wealth of ways to experience the school’s tradition of excellence and innovation.

“Curtis is wholly dedicated to preparing our students for dynamic 21st-century careers as artist-citizens and musical leaders,” said Curtis President Roberto Díaz. “Our students ‘learn by doing’ and this season they offer more performances than ever to share their music with a growing community of fans and supporters locally and internationally, while honing their craft alongside illustrious faculty and alumni.”

Curtis offers a tuition-free, performance-inspired learning culture to 177 students from across the globe. Nurtured by a celebrated faculty, these extraordinary young musicians graduate to join 4,000 alumni who have long made music history, from Leonard Bernstein to Alan Gilbert, Samuel Barber to Jennifer Higdon, Anna Moffo to Eric Owens, Richard Goode to Jonathan Biss. Curtis alumni personify the school’s commitment to excellence—on stage and in their communities—inventing careers with impact. Recent graduates forging 21st-century careers include Stanford Thompson, CEO of Play On, Philly!; the musicians of genre-crossing trio Time for ThreeZach De Pue, Nick Kendall, and Ranaan Meyer; and Yvonne Lam, violinist in groundbreaking contemporary music ensemble eighth blackbird.

In this Release:
Curtis On Tour
Guest Artists and Collaborators
Marquee Collaborations
Illustrious Alumni
Innovation and 21st Century Artists
Community Engagement
All-School Project
90th Anniversary Gala
Season Credits

Asian Tour: String Sextet
Curtis On Tour kicks off the season this week with debuts in Hong Kong and Taipei and return performances in Seoul and Dresden. An embodiment of the school’s “learn by doing” philosophy, Curtis On Tour offers students real-world, professional touring experience alongside celebrated alumni and faculty. Since it was established in 2008, students, faculty, and alumni have traveled to more than 44 destinations in Europe, Asia, and North and South America, with new venues added each year. Each tour combines live performances with community engagement in the field, including master classes and in-school concerts.

This year, Curtis On Tour brings a string sextet to Asia and Europe. The tour ensemble—including violist Roberto Díaz (’84), Curtis’s president; violinist Eunice Kim ( ’14); and current students—plays three Romantic masterworks: the Sextet from Strauss’s Capriccio, the Sextet in G major by Brahms, and Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence.

Starting the tour in Hong Kong, the Curtis On Tour ensemble performs at Chinese University’s Lee Hysan Concert Hall (September 25) and gives a private performance at Asia Society of Hong Kong (September 23). The itinerary also includes master classes and in-school concerts at St. Paul’s Co-Educational College, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Asia Society Hong Kong Center, and Diocesan Boys’ School, and a public master class with Roberto Díaz at Hong Kong Baptist University (September 24).

Performances in Taipei at National Taiwan Normal University (September 30) and Taipei National University of the Arts (October 1) are accompanied by master classes for university students. Additional Asia and Europe tour stops include Kumho Art Hall in Seoul (September 27), the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber in Dresden (October 5), and a private performance at the American Academy Berlin as part of the Henry A. Kissinger Prize ceremony (October 7).

East Coast and European Tour: Peter Wiley and the Aizuri Quartet
In 2015 faculty member Peter Wiley (Cello ’74) and the Aizuri Quartet, the new string quartet in residence at Curtis, tour the East Coast and Europe. The Candlelight Concert Society presents Curtis On Tour at Howard Community College in Columbia, Md. (January 24); other venues include Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (March 15) and New York City’s Morgan Library and Museum (March 17). European performance venues include the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber in Dresden (February 7) and the Arts Arena in Paris (February 10).

American Tour: Curtis Chamber Orchestra
Robert Spano (’85) leads the Curtis Chamber Orchestra on tour in March 2015, traveling to Washington, D.C.; Florida; and California with a program featuring the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s (’88) Viola Concerto, performed by Roberto Díaz, and the chamber orchestra premiere of three songs composed by Mr. Spano, sung by Curtis soprano Rachel Sterrenberg.

Performances take place in Washington, D.C. at the Library of Congress (March 7); Philadelphia at Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square (March 9); Coral Gables, Fla. at the University of Miami’s Maurice Gusman Concert Hall, presented by the Friends of Chamber Music of Miami (March 11); Davis, Calif. at UC Davis’s Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts (March 13); Rohnert Park, Calif. at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center (March 15); and San Diego at Irwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall, presented by the San Diego Symphony (March 17).

Throughout the 2014–15 season, Curtis welcomes world-class artists who connect students to life as successful professional musicians today. Their unmatched musical lineage, in turn, links students to the classical masters. Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä, one of the world’s premier Sibelius interpreters, leads the Curtis Symphony (January 25). The Curtis Presents recital series features guitar faculty member Jason Vieaux, “among the elite of today’s classical guitarists” (Gramophone), with a dozen acclaimed solo albums and guest appearances with the orchestras of Cleveland, Houston, and Toronto, among many others (October 5).

Later in the season, Curtis Presents features an illustrious quintet of Curtis brass faculty, all members of the Philadelphia Orchestra (February 8). And two residency recitals feature piano faculty member Jonathan Biss (November 22 with the Aizuri Quartet and January 23 with Miriam Fried), who has a thriving solo and recording career in addition to his recent success teaching one of Curtis’s MOOCs (massive open online courses) on Coursera, Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas.

Established professional directors and designers return to work with the Curtis Opera Theatre under the artistic direction of Mikael Eliasen. Their fresh interpretations of standard repertoire include a double bill of Rossini’s La scala di seta and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi (November 20–23).

Already this season, Curtis embarked on a first-time collaboration with FringeArts and Pennsylvania Ballet with the world premiere of “What I Learned About Outer Space,” three new experimental dances set to music by Curtis student composers Rene Orth and Alyssa Weinberg and performed by Ensemble39, a Philadelphia-based chamber group of Curtis alumni.

American Public Media’s Performance Today comes to Curtis for a residency in October, culminating in a public event with host Fred Child. The concert highlights works by Curtis alumni and faculty, including many Curtis On Tour commissions (October 15). The residency also includes media training for students and a day-long recording session for Performance Today’s Young Artist in Residence series with Curtis piano student Steven Lin.

The school continues its ongoing collaborations with the region’s finest arts and culture organizations, including regular student performances at Longwood Gardens and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society presents the Curtis Chamber Orchestra with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero and violinist Bella Hristova (’08) (December 5). Curtis joins forces with Opera Philadelphia and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts for their annual joint production, Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (March 4, 6, 8).

A new collaboration with World Cafe Live (February 6) showcases Curtis students in alternative venues. In keeping with the “Performer-Songwriters” theme of their 2014–15 series, LiveConnections features Curtis students who write and perform their own music. In the intimate atmosphere of its partner venue, World Cafe Live, LiveConnections expands the boundaries of classical music, presenting unique collaborations and fresh projects.

Having experienced extraordinary one-on-one training and countless performance opportunities as students, Curtis alumni return to inspire today’s students with their artistry. Rossen Milanov (’94), music director of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, principal conductor of Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias in Spain, and recently appointed music director designate of the Columbus Symphony, leads acclaimed violin soloist Leila Josefowicz (’97) and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra (April 26). Mimi Stillman’s (’99) Dolce Suono Ensemble performs on the Curtis Presents series with Charles Abramovic, piano (’76); Curtis student Thomas Shivone, bass-baritone; and the Dover Quartet: Joel Link (’11, ’14), Bryan Lee (’11, ’14), Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt (’10, ’11, ’14), and Camden Shaw (’10, ’11, ’14) (April 12). Other alumni appear throughout the season as soloists, conductors, and collaborators; perform as part of Curtis On Tour; and give workshops and presentations for students.
Curtis is dedicated to preparing students for life as 21st-century musicians and shaping artistic leaders who find creative new ways to engage audiences while maintaining the highest artistic standards. A host of performances and residencies emphasize this thrust in the Curtis curriculum.

Pioneering contemporary-music ensemble eighth blackbird returns to round out a three-year residency funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In addition to performances on the Student Recital Series (December 11, May 1), the sextet is an active member of the Curtis community, visiting, coaching, and performing with students throughout the year. Their May residency recital highlights collaborations with Steven Mackey, Curtis’s 2014–15 composer in residence.

Internationally renowned percussion ensemble NEXUS, with a repertoire ranging from the rhythms of Africa to the ground-breaking compositions of Toru Takemitsu, John Cage, and Steve Reich, also visits Curtis. Its residency concludes with a recital alongside student percussionists and the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble (November 14). The Curtis 20/21 Ensemble appears on the What Makes It Great? series with Rob Kapilow, presented by Washington Performing Arts at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. (December 14).

Curtis Presents features the Sixth Floor Trio (November 1), a group formed in 2008 by Curtis graduates Johnny Teyssier (’08), principal clarinet of the Malmö Symphony in Sweden and the Minnesota Opera Orchestra; Harrison Hollingsworth (’08), principal bassoon of the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center; and Teddy Abrams, piano (Conducting ’08), music director of the Louisville Orchestra. The Sixth Floor Trio plays multiple instruments, improvises, and joins with guest artists from many different genres to bring music to the widest possible audience.

Curtis continues to offer a platform for emerging musicians of distinction at a crucial time in their development through its professional bridge programs for string quartets and conductors. Following in the tradition of world-class string quartets nurtured at Curtis, from the Guarneri to the Borromeo to the Dover, this year Curtis welcomes a new string quartet in residence, the Aizuri Quartet. Formed in 2012, the quartet comprises alumni from both Curtis and the Juilliard School, and has performed at storied chamber music festivals like Marlboro, Caramoor, and the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Music Institute. Aizuri members Miho Saegusa, violin; Zoë Martin-Doike, violin (’13); Ayane Kozasa, viola (’12); and Karen Ouzounian, cello; join faculty member Peter Wiley (Cello ’74) for a tour of the East Coast and Europe this season.

Kensho Watanabe (’13) from Greenwich, Conn., returns for a second season in the conducting program. In 2013–14 Mr. Watanabe led the Curtis Opera Theatre production of Viktor Ullmann’s The Emperor of Atlantis and led the Curtis Symphony Orchestra alongside distinguished guest conductors, opening all three concerts in Verizon Hall. This year he is joined by Edward Poll from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Assistant conductor at the 2014 Glimmerglass Festival, Mr. Poll recently made his debut with the Buffalo Philharmonic at the invitation of JoAnn Falletta. Both Mr. Watanabe and Mr. Poll hold a Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellowship.

In between performances throughout the year, Curtis students are a part of Philadelphia, reaching out to young people and others in the community who may not otherwise have access to classical music. Curtis hosts two Family Concerts (November 2 and February 15) and sends students out into the community through the Albert M. Greenfield Residencies, designed to engage audiences in schools, hospitals, senior centers, and other venues. These in-depth residencies develop lasting relationships between Curtis students and local audiences through shared encounters with music.

Curtis’s newest professional bridge initiative, the ArtistYear fellowship program, launches this school year. An arts-based service corps that brings arts access and education to underserved communities, ArtistYear was inspired by the Franklin Project’s challenge to America to create one million service-year positions by 2023. During the 2014-15 academic year, three recent graduates of Curtis—Alexandra von der Embse (Oboe ’12), Wade Coufal (Bassoon ’14), and Michelle Cann (Piano ’13), who perform together as the Bok Trio—will participate in an impact-and metric-driven pilot program in Philadelphia, creating a foundation for ArtistYear to scale and replicate around the region and the country. The mission is to enable students with a deep passion for their art form and humanity to give back to areas in their local communities through one-year fellowships

Since 2007, Curtis has chosen a common theme to tie together performance, musical studies, liberal arts, and extracurricular activities through its acclaimed All-School Project. For the second year the school delves into Russia: A Land and its Influence. Coursework in the liberal arts and musical studies will explore Russian film and literature, and examine the influence and impact of Russian performers on conservatories, teachers, students, and orchestras around the world. Forums on current events in Russia will also be offered to students. In performances all season, Curtis students will celebrate the musical riches and influences of this immense land, from Shostakovich on the first Curtis Symphony Orchestra concert led by Mark Russell Smith (’87) (October 26) to Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta (October 9-12) and Stravinsky’s Rake’s Progress (May 7-10) performed by the Curtis Opera Theatre.
Dovetailing with a prolific season of performances at home and around the world, Curtis celebrates 90 years of musical tradition, excellence, and innovation with a gala on Wednesday, May 6 at Philadelphia’s Hyatt at the Bellevue. The gala honors the founding vision of Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist that resonates today more than ever. Details will be available later in the season at

Steinway & Sons, celebrating 90 years of partnership with the Curtis Institute of Music.

The Curtis Institute of Music receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

General operating support for Curtis is provided, in part, by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

The Curtis Opera Theatre season is sponsored by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

The October 26 Curtis Symphony Orchestra concert is underwritten by a grant from the Markow-Totevy Foundation.

The November 2 Curtis Family Concert is supported by PECO.

Ariadne auf Naxos is presented in association with Opera Philadelphia and Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Aurora Series for Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater. The production is funded, in part, through support from the William Penn Foundation. The Aurora Series is underwritten by the Wyncote Foundation

The March 2015 Curtis Chamber Orchestra tour of the United States is supported by The Presser Foundation’s 75th Anniversary Celebration Special Projects Grant. The Higdon Viola Concerto commission was supported by a grant from the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia.


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